Visiting Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum & Home, Mansfield MO (Part Two)
By John Roberts
Los Angeles, California
November 8, 2017 10:07am CST
In 1894, Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder purchased 40 acres of land near Mansfield, Missouri. The property they named Rocky Ridge Farm would expand to 200 acres. The Wilders including young daughter Rose left De Smet, South Dakota where Pa and Ma and sister Mary lived and traveled by wagon to Mansfield. The going was tough and they struggled for years. Almanzo built a log cabin which after 17 years of additions became the two story white house seen today. Visitors enter through the kitchen which is the oldest room and are informed that Rose kept everything as it was upon Laura’s death. The house has been maintained the same ever since. See the 1957 calendar hanging on the wall. So everything seen in the house is original. The guide explains how the house developed over time and points out various items of interest. For instance the stove was ordered from Montgomery Ward in 1905 and Laura’s blue willow china dates to 1921. The tour winds through the rooms. Dining room highlights are an 1885 still working clock that was a Christmas gift and Laura’s rocking chair with cushions she made. The bedroom has an eerie feeling because Laura’s nightgown is laid out on the bed waiting for her. There is her hat, clothes and sewing kit. An odd nook is next and served as Laura’s office. She was a very small woman and often slept on the divan. Her desk is like she just stepped away for a moment. You see correspondence, envelopes, stamps, tape etc. This is where she wrote the last four books. The tiny music room contains their organ and her 1928 record player. The “library” is really a section of the main room that is a walkway between shelves of her books. The living room or parlor is furnished by 1920s furniture ordered from the Sears catalog. The guide explains many of the chairs and lamps were made by Almanzo. Overall the house is small and cozy as you would expect from the Wilders.
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When I went to Yellowstone one year, we passed the turn off for the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead in I think it was Smethport South Dakota..sadly..it was pretty far off route 90...but hopefully some day. I read all her books as a kid, and some as an adult as well.